Everyone who has had the good fortune to read Alan Moore's "Watchmen" knows that it is one of the greatest literary works of all time.
Entertainment Weekly called it the 13th-best book since 1983. Time Magazine called it one of the 100 best novels since 1923. "Watchmen" is the only comic to appear on either list.
What makes "Watchmen" special is its incredibly complex characters. Most of the so-called superheroes have no actual powers. They are human, with regular human flaws and weaknesses, albeit somewhat exaggerated because of their circumstances.
Luckily, Major League Baseball is filled with interesting characters who share many traits with the Crimebusters. Here's a look at how I would cast a baseball version of the "Watchmen" movie.
When Jon Osterman's body was disintegrated in a nuclear accident, he became an immortal being with the powers to change size, duplicate himself, see his entire life simultaneously, and change the composition of matter itself.
In other words, he was almost as amazing as Albert Pujols.
Is there anything left to say about Prince Albert? There are not enough adjectives in the English language to describe what he has done.
If there is a god, Dr. Manhattan once said, "he's nothing like me." He's right—a supreme deity would have much more in common with Pujols.
While Ty Cobb is rightly remembered as one of the greatest players in the history of baseball, he is arguably more famous for his aggressiveness than his skill.
Cobb was never afraid of a fight, and had no problem resorting to physical violence to achieve his goals; he is infamous for wearing spiked cleats to prevent infielders from interfering with his stolen base attempts, and initiated numerous altercations with fans and civilians.
His combination of skill and aggressiveness makes him a perfect match with Edward Morgan Blake, also known as the Comedian.
Lunatic. Psycho. Paranoid. All are words that have been used to describe the vigilante Rorschach. And all are more than applicable to this outspoken young outfielder.
Bradley has a habit of not staying with the same team for very long, because, like Rorschach, he has a bit of trouble making friends.
He has been traded from the Indians, Dodgers, and (probably) Cubs because of his problems with Eric Wedge, Jeff Kent, and the entire city of Chicago. Sort of like when young Walter Kovacs was sent away after burning a bully's eye with a cigarette.
Of course, Bradley has never gone as far as burning a man alive. At least, as far as we know.
The most "normal" of the superheroes is, of course, Dan Dreiberg. He and Big Papi have much in common.
Both are known for their extraordinary, but not superhuman skill. Both are known for packing a few extra pounds, and both are known to have relied on science to boost their performances.
And just as Papi can be counted on to have a rough first month or two, it takes Dan a little while to warm up, too.
If there's one thing Rickey Henderson isn't known for, it's humility.
He loves the spotlight. He loves attention. He loves putting on a show.
In that regard, he is very much like Laurie Juspeczyk, the needy, whiny vigilante whose character is the least innovative of the group.
While Laurie constantly complains about how her mother forced into "adventuring," her persistence (and costume) show that she truly did like it, if only for the attention.
And then there's the part where she arrived at Dan's door mere minutes after breaking up with her boyfriend of nearly 20 years.
For those of you who are unfamiliar with "Watchmen," I will try not to spoil too much of the plot here. But then again, if you have never read or seen it, you probably weren't enjoying this slideshow very much anyway.
Anyway, one of the biggest themes of the book is whether or not the ends ever justify the means. Adrian Veidt, the "smartest man in the world," is a firm believer that horrific sacrifice is justifiable when committed for the greater good.
While tearing the sacrifice bunt out of the playbook is not quite as drastic as what Ozymandias proposes, Oakland GM Billy Beane shares Adrian's sentiment.
Beane has embraced the sabermetric phenomenon, throwing baseball traditionalism out the window in favor of statistics and probability. Though his actions upset many of his fans and peers (even when the A's were winning), Beane persevered on the assumption that he was smarter than the naysayers.
His willingness to implement his "smarter" methods in the face of popular dissent (or stubbornness, depending on which side of the debate you're on) makes him a good match for Ozymandias.
Hollis Mason wasn't the first superhero, but he was one of the most influential of the first generation. As an inspiration and mentor to Dan, his legacy lived on long after he retired from vigilantism.
Similarly, Ruth is a baseball legend not because he was one of the first well-known players, but because he popularized the home run. His success as a slugger changed the way baseball was played.
Both figures remain icons in their respective fields despite the dramatic changes that have taken place. Ruth played in an era without steroids or stadium lights; the first Nite Owl had none of his successor's gadgetry and retired shortly after the appearance of Dr. Manhattan ("the dawn of the superhero").
This one's pretty obvious, as Selig is essentially the President of Major League Baseball. But there are other reasons too.
First of all, both have stayed longer than expected. Selig, originally set to retire after this season, had his contract extended through 2012. Meanwhile, Nixon, extremely popular after the quick success of the Vietnam War, had the 22nd Amendment repealed and in the book is gearing up to run for his sixth term.
Perhaps more importantly, the two have dealt with similar issues during their executive tenures. Selig had to work through a players' strike, while Nixon had to deal with policemen's protests. Bud has had to work with protective players and angry fans to negotiate the steroid scandals, while Tricky Dick had a mess of his own with vigilantism before the Keane Act.
And of course, both were prepared to launch nuclear warheads at the Soviet Union.
While not a major factor in the plot, Ozymandias' genetically modified pet lynx is an important part of the book. Her presence reminds us of the scientific achievements made possible by Dr. Manhattan, and her death demonstrates the intensity of Adrian's willingness to sacrifice for the greater good.
The key factor in this casting choice is "genetically modified."
While Bonds is certainly not the only slugger to have used performance-enhancing drugs, he would be among the most visible even if he had not broken both home run records.
His transformation from a speedy slap-hitter to a hulking goliath who can smack homers at will is simply unnatural. And his huge head is more than just ego.
Both the book and movie end with the haunting image of a chubby young reporter about to pick up Rorschach's all-telling journal. The fate of the world depends on his willingness to remain silent.
Similarly, the fate of the over 100 names on the 2003 "Steroid List" depend on people's ability to keep secrets. While a court order theoretically prevents anyone with knowledge of the names to keep quiet, some of the lawyers have leaked bits of information on the condition of anonymity.
The difference is that, while Seymour's editor told him he would "leave it entirely in your hands," these anonymous lawyers got their power through luck and circumstance. Who gave them the right to decide who gets leaked and who stays sheltered from public scrutiny?
In other words, "Who watches the Watchmen?"